Writing it all

WHEN is the best time to write about ``everything''? Morning? Noon? Night? At each or any of these times, you can write about ``something,'' to be sure. But when you write about everything, it's a horse of a different color, or a horse of some or every color. Or of no color at all. Where is the best place to write about everything? Depends, of course, on who you are, where you came from, where you're going, stuff like that. The problem with writing about everything is that you ought to have been everywhere and done everything to do so -- or at least you should have read a lot. Writing about everything is no small matter.

What do you write when you write about everything? It might be easier to ask: ``What don't you write about when you write about everything?'' It would certainly save on pencils and paper to ask the latter. Otherwise, you'd have to write about cars, and horses, and rockets. You'd have to write about lilacs (how the first ones smell in the early spring), encyclopedias, and dinosaurs. Or canning jars, and crickets, and . . . but you get the point. On the other hand, putting down what you don't write about when you write about everything is not as easy as it sounds.

Sure, it's easy to say, ``Write about everything!'' ``What could be simpler,'' says the neophyte, her eyes blinking with enthusiasm. But how, actually, is it to be done? There is so very much everything to write about. Anyhow, go ahead and try to do it. You'll learn something by trying.

Why should anybody want to write about everything? -- knowing how difficult and frustrating and time-consuming the task is? Let's ask Norman P. Haymar, a successful young writer-about-town. Norman has for years, so he claims, written about everything.

``I used to write about nothing,'' Norman said, standing in front of his collection of trivia, perhaps the world's largest. ``As time went on, I decided I didn't want to write about nothing, in the sense of merely writing about the opposite of something,'' Norman continued thoughtfully, his eyes brightening, ``so I started writing about everything. See what I mean?''

I pretended that I did.

``One day, as I was sitting around, thinking about nothing in particular -- pretty much what I'm doing now -- I had this absolute thunderbolt of insight: `Why not,' I reasoned, `get everything on paper, `a la Thomas Wolfe?' ''

Why not, indeed?

To sum up: Who among us hasn't, like Norman P. Haymar, said, ``I think I'll write about everything!'' That's OK; go ahead and try. Probably somebody will do it someday -- then, everybody will do it every day, or words to that effect. The same sort of thing can be said about nobody writing about nothing, which is often the style now. Another extreme possibility is. . . . But that's another story.

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